Friday, March 24, 2006

More on the pecking order of city charters

On Wednesday, I stated "It is ridiculous to claim, as they do, that somehow this amendment requires the City to ignore state and federal law that shields your privacy." I also said that "Any 6th grader can tell you that state government trumps city government, and that the federal government trumps the whole thing."

I would like to expand this with some relevant law, which thankfully is available online.

The Texas Constitution has some very specific language about the role of city ordinances. Article XI Section 5 specifically states:
No charter or any ordinance passed under said charter shall contain any provision inconsistent with the Constitution of the State, or of the general laws enacted by the Legislature of this State.
Thus, it is a matter of Texas Constitutional law not to place material private by state law online.

As to the U.S. Constitution, I refer readers (and council members) to Article VI, which states:
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
This is what is known as the Supremacy Clause, and it establishes federal law as the kingdaddy of them all.

So what we have is the pecking order of government. The OGO Amendment itself recognizes this order, and your right to privacy. It states:
SECTION 2: Privacy Protected. Nothing within this amendment should be interpreted in a manner that would violate an individual’s existing constitutional or common law rights to privacy.
This is why Leffingwell, McCracken, and the other council members are just plain wrong about this idea of private emails going online.


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